A Wakefield Christian is ‘suspended’ in palm cross row

19th April 2011'Picture of Colin Atkinson with his palm cross and WDH van after getting in a row over displaying it in his van window'PICTURE: MATTHEW PAGE

19th April 2011'Picture of Colin Atkinson with his palm cross and WDH van after getting in a row over displaying it in his van window'PICTURE: MATTHEW PAGE

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A CHRISTIAN who feared he would lose his job for displaying a palm cross in his van has claimed his employers are still trying to force him out of the company.

A religious row broke out in when electrician Colin Atkinson refused to remove the cross after being told to do so by bosses at Wakefield and District Housing (WDH) back in April.

They claimed it could suggest to people that the company favoured Christians.

He was later told he could keep the cross, and his job, after a series of meetings with his employers where an agreement was signed.

But Mr Atkinson, 64, of Horbury, said WDH broke its agreement by moving him to a different workplace.

And after speaking out against what he considered an injustice, he said he has now been suspended from work while his bosses investigate an alleged breach of confidence.

Mr Atkinson said: “I am absolutely flabbergasted at what they are doing.

“We signed an agreement saying I could return to my normal job at my normal workplace and they broke it.”

Mr Atkinson said he was moved from Airedale to Wakefield in June, and was greeted with “hostility” by some.

He said he also had his van taken off him and was told to use the bus instead to get to and from work.

He said: “People asked what I was doing there, and I decided to tell the truth, that I had been moved by management.

“So they sent me home, put me on gardening leave and offered me a pay-off until next February when I retire, providing I sign a legal document gagging me and my wife and our families.

“I refused to do it. My dad fought a war for our basic human rights and freedoms and it is out of the question.

“Thousands of pounds must have been spent on these meetings and it is important that WDH rentpayers know they have been paying for me to be off work for weeks.”

WDH refused to comment.